The history of rural southwestern Pennsylvania is the story of its people - Native Americans, trappers, traders, soldiers, settlers and farmers.  Their stories are presented in the Visitors Center and its award-winning orientation exhibit Patterns on the Land, which features the everyday objects of their lives.  An audio-visual program precedes the exhibit and guided tours of the Center and the grounds.

 

 

Farmers have worked the land of southwestern Pennsylvania for more than 2,000 years.  Using the tools and technology known to them they have planted and harvested their crops, tended their animals, and worked to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Patterns on the Land tells their story. 

 

 

Hundreds of objects, from rare Native American archaeological artifacts and hand-made 18th century frontier tools to steam engines, threshers, and tractors illustrate how rural lifestyles changed as the frontier was settled and science and technology altered the ways farmers tilled the land.  The farm families tell many of the stories themselves through the use of diaries, video clips, and recorded interviews.  Patterns on the Land is a story of common people and everyday challenges, a story of hard work, ingenuity, and adaptation.

 

 

The Visitors Center is also the headquarters of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County and is home to the Historical Society's Genealogical Research Library.  The Museum Gift Shop and restrooms are also located in the Visitors Center.  The Visitors Center opened to the public in 1997.